THE EARLY NOVEMBER is just getting started again. With sold out reunion shows and plans to release a new album on Rise Records this spring, things are busier and better than ever for frontman ACE ENDERS. It wouldn’t be so sweet without some struggle, as Enders explains in this exclusive interview.

Interview: Brian Kraus

Almost exactly a year ago while you were working on your latest solo effort Gold Rush, you kind of shocked people when you made it known that things just weren’t going your way, and even more so when you said you weren’t sure if you could sustain being a musician and releasing new music. You spoke about running out of time and money, kids not coming out to shows as much and downloads hurting physical sales. So now that you can reflect back on that period of your life, how are you feeling about things?
I think right now’s one of those times where I’m extremely excited. I’m really happy to be in the position where we’re at right now. I feel completely different than I did in that moment, because in that moment there was nothing to look forward to, it was only struggle, it was only things falling through and now it’s completely the opposite. It’s hope now. You know you can look at things and say “at least it feels good right now.” I think maybe that won’t last forever, but it definitely feels good for right now.

Let’s talk about TEN’s signing process with Rise Records. They've been working hard to represent their roster with more rock bands like Hot Water Music, Daytrader, Cheap Girls and Make Do And Mend.
Well, I’ve known Matt (Gordner, general manager) for a long time. He works over there at Rise. We talked about working together when he worked at Icon years ago.  This was just a long process and unfortunately we weren’t able to back then. We’ve kept in touch a little bit. I brought up the idea to him, I guess a little while ago, and he was just really into it and I was really into it. He’s such a great guy, I feel like we’re in really good hands because he’s such a genuine person and I feel like that translates in the business they do as well, how he conducts himself. I’m really excited because it’s working with friends pretty much.

What attracted TEN to Rise? With every similar signing there are comments like “Why are they doing that?”
Right. Yeah, I know what you’re saying. I think for us it goes back just to the relationship that I’ve had with Matt for such a long time and how good, not just of a business person he is, but how good of a friend he is, and I know that he would treat us the right way. And I think that’s just where all our heads were at in a place where we have a personal connection with this person and we know that our best interests are genuinely going to be at the front of the thought process at all times.

Some people can’t really fathom a band they like being on a label with bands they don’t like.
Yeah, it’s funny when people do that. I used to be the same way, but now that I’ve been on this side of it for such a long time you want to be somewhere where you can trust the person that you’re with and that you know that they’re always going to be thinking along the same mindset that you’re at. That’s the most important thing. Not how well you fit, because you’re not looking to just tour with the bands on the label, you know, you’re not really looking to do much at all with the bands on the label, you’re looking to further your career and wherever you can do that best no matter what label it is or who else is on the brand. It’s just about how it works for you. It’s hard as a fan to detach yourself from all that stuff, cause that’s the fun of liking music. I totally get it.

When the band parted ways after The Mother, The Mechanic, And The Path, it was well-publicized that Drive-Thru had delayed the release process. What wisdom did you guys take away from that in terms of going with Rise, and just in general to get a fresh start?
We learned a whole lot from that experience and I don’t think just on Drive-Thru’s part of it, I mean they did do a good job of everything and I think that it maybe got blown up a little bit that the release was, I mean it was pushed back several times, but that wasn’t all their fault.  It was also on our shoulders as well. I think a big thing of learning at that point was I really wanted to do something where I’d be able to prove to myself that I was worth being able to call this my career. And I think that was one of the times for me at that age being like “How come I get to do this and so many people try and can’t do it?” It’s sort of like I put a ton of pressure on myself and everybody in the band did at that point, and it was just a confusing time. I think the biggest thing we take away from it is to just know ourselves. You know, know what you are in and out and I think that’s another reason we went with Rise. We could have chosen somewhere else or another way to do it, but it’s like we know what we do best, and we know what they do, and they are good at what they do. I think the one thing we took away from is the just that—knowing who we really are and how to make sense of all the weird things that come up.

Running with that self-awareness you discovered, let’s talk about your decision to self-record and produce the new album at your studio. Has that been complementing the writing process?
Yeah, I have a bunch of songs. I have a lot of stuff written for this album and a lot of stuff that I’ve been figuring out for years. I would say in the back of my mind, “If the band is ever getting back together, this is how I’d like to do it.” So I have a lot sitting there, a lot that I’ve been preparing for long before it was ever even a thought. I really want to do the album just because it’s so important to me to come back from this hiatus with 110%, just like not skipping a beat and really showing the growth that we’ve all taken individually and as a band. I feel like I can do a good job of it. I’m really excited to just be buried in it, and I think that’s the way I work best and I’ve definitely learned that about myself too. My best environment is when I am…when I can’t get out of the environment. And when I’m doing the record if I have all that on me then I can’t you know, I can’t take a break and go play video games in the longue and get disconnected. I can’t go say “Oh, I’m gonna talk a walk, I’ll see you guys in a little bit.” Sometimes that’s good, but I know for me, that’s the stuff that distracts me and I’ve had terrible ADHD my entire life so if I’m not buried in something, I’m not 100%. I’m very excited to just be completely soaked in all of it. (continued on page 2…)